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What AIP spices and herbs can you have? What spices do you have to avoid? This can get confusing while on the Autoimmune Protocol, but this post will clear it all up for you, teach you how to use them and seasoning blends to make your dishes more flavorful, and you can also get a printable PDF cheat sheet with a list of compliant and non-compliant AIP spices and herbs.
Are You Destined to Have Boring Dishes on the AIP Diet?
Ah, I think this is one of the biggest myths about the Autoimmune Protocol – that dishes are going to be bland and tasteless because the majority of “normal” spices are eliminated.
However, just like a lot of the parts of the AIP Diet, it's more about relearning how to use what you CAN use rather than lamenting the lack of what you can't.
See also: The Ultimate Guide to the AIP Diet – everything you need to know to be successful
So let's start by first talking about what you can and can't have during the elimination portion of the diet, and then we'll go on to talk about using what you can to flavor your dishes. (See the entire AIP Food List )
What spices are allowed on AIP? (Safe herbs and spices)
- Basil leaf
- Bay Leaf
- Cilantro / Coriander Leaf (leaf only)
- Curry Leaf
- Dill Weed
- Fennel Leaf
- Fenugreek Leaf
- Horseradish Root
- Kaffir Lime Leaf
- Marjoram Leaf
- Onion Powder
- Oregano Leaf
- Savory Leaf
- Wasabi (additive-free)
What spices are NOT allowed on AIP?
- Anise Seed
- Annatto Seed
- Black Caraway
- Black Cumin
- Black Pepper
- Celery Seed
- Chili Pepper Flakes
- Chili Powder
- Chinese Five-Spice
- Chipotle Chili Powder
- Coriander Seed
- Cumin Seed
- Curry Powder (typically contains nightshades)
- Dill Seed
- Fennel Seed
- Fenugreek Seed
- Garam Masala
- Pepper (from black, green, pink, or white peppercorns)
- Poppy Seed
- Poultry Seasoning
- Red Pepper
- Russian Caraway
- Star Anise
- Steak Seasoning
- Taco Seasoning
Free Printable AIP Spices PDF Cheatsheet
Since I know you're not going to want to have to pull this blog post up EVERY time you need to figure out what spices you can have, you can simply print this free AIP Spices cheatsheet in my Paleo & AIP Freebie Library.
Put it up in your pantry so you have easy access!
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Why You Need To Be Cautious With Seasonings
When you go to the store while on the AIP diet, it can feel like a minefield of danger.
If you need any sort of non-perishable foods, you sometimes wonder if you need a college course in reading labels.
One thing to steer clear of while on the elimination diet though are the words “spices” or “seasonings” on packaged products.
Unfortunately, these typically have spices that are not compliant – usually paprika.
Store-bought seasoning blends that you might buy to flavor foods or to season things like steaks, chicken, and fish typically have non-compliant spices in them as well, and sometimes thing like rice, gluten, or corn to keep them from clumping together.
It's best that for the duration of the elimination diet that you either make your own seasoning blends (see some ideas below) or purchase ones that you know are AIP-compliant.
Storebought/Pre-made AIP Spices
One very flavorful seasoning/spice blend is Herbes de Provence. It can be used to sprinkle on steaks before grilling, chicken before cooking, fish, veggies, you name it. Do be careful of fennel seed though – some Herbes de Provence blends have it, some don't, so make sure the one you get does NOT have fennel seed.
Another delicious pre-made seasoning is Italian Seasoning. It can give an authentic taste to a no-mato sauce or again, spice up your proteins or veggies.
I love these AIP Seasonings by Primal Palate. They have three – Super Gyro, which is a greek-style blend that goes well on meats (and in my AIP Gyro Recipe!), a Breakfast Blend which is great on breakfast hashes of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, etc, and a Garlic & Herb blend that is good on just about everything – roasted veggies, to spice up steak, chicken, or fish, etc.
My Favorite DIY AIP Spice Blends
Taco Tuesday wouldn't be complete without tacos, right? I love this AIP Taco Seasoning that tastes quite authentic without the nightshades.
I also have a post with four different homemade AIP seasoning blend recipes in it – ranch, greek, sage breakfast sausage, and tandoori.
Curry Powder typically is out because it contains quite a few nightshade and seed-based spices, but this AIP curry seasoning by Paleo on the Go is awesome.
And of course, Pumpkin Spice tops the lists of many, but luckily that's an easy fix. You'll need mace instead of nutmeg, but other than that, it's very similar to regular pumpkin spice. This AIP pumpkin spice blend by Whole New Mom is good.
Good Substitutions For Basic Spices
A few spices that you might need to replace on AIP are black pepper and mace.
To get that same “kick” that you get from black pepper, try using ginger instead. It can be either dried or fresh.
And instead of nutmeg, use Mace, which is made from the outer red coating of the nutmeg plant and tastes very similar. It can be hard to find mace in stores sometimes, but you can always ask a store manager if they'd order it for you. Or, trusty Amazon typically has it and Shop AIP also does.
How to Use Herbs and Spices to Add Flavor to Your AIP Meals
In this YouTube video I go over many of the AIP Spices and Herbs that you can have and how to use each of them to flavor your dishes.
AIP Meals That Use Spices
The following are some meals that use herbs and spices to make the dishes very flavorful:
AIP Spices Allowed in the Reintroduction Phase
The good news is that most of the spices that you probably miss are reintroduced first during the reintroduction period. Below are the spices and what stage of the reintroduction schedule you can reintroduce them.
Fruit and berry-based spices: Allspice, star anise, caraway, cardamom pod, juniper, pepper (from black, green, pink, or white peppercorns), and sumac.
Seed-based spices: Anise seed, annatto seed, black caraway (Russian caraway, black cumin), celery seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, dill seed, fennel seed, fenugreek, mustard, and nutmeg.
None added, except poppy seed sometimes is used as a flavoring
Paprika is the only added spice here
Nightshades or spices derived from nightshades: cayenne pepper, chili powder, chili-based spices, crushed red pepper, curry powder
Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately no, not on the elimination phase, it is a seed spice.
Nope, paprika is from the nightshade family, therefore not AIP-compliant. Do be careful as a lot of packaged goods include the word “spices” as an ingredient, and paprika is often one of those “spices”.
YES! Use cinnamon at will. It's a great warming spice that will add lots of flavor to your dishes – both savory and sweet.
No, black pepper isn't actually a nightshade. It's a berry-based spice and still not included on AIP due to the potential for causing inflammation. It's one of the first spices to be reintroduced though.
Still Have Questions?
If you still have any questions about herbs and spices on the Autoimmune Protocol, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I'll get back to you!
And remember to grab your AIP Spices cheatsheet in the Paleo & AIP Freebie Library.